Futron Analysis: 2012 Space Competitiveness Index
Today, space has been transformed from an object of wonder to an arena of practical, economic, and strategic consequence.
Exploring the vast unknowns of space is an ancient human aspiration.
The same impulse that led nomadic tribes to seek out what was beyond the next mountaintop, and civilizations to traverse the oceans in search of new lands, today animates governments, enterprises, entrepreneurs, scientists, and citizens alike to pursue frontiers beyond our planet. Relentless curiosity, the quest for resources, the desire for knowledge, and an instinctive drive to push outward toward new horizons all combine to inspire space activity. Alongside these, of course, are the motivations of the modern nation-state: competitive advantage, technological development, scientific understanding, economic growth, global prestige, and security enabled by command and control of the strategic environment offered by space.
At the national level, space has always represented simultaneously a competitive and collaborative endeavor. Countries accrue tangible benefits from space activitybenefits that can set them apart from their peers. At the same time, space by its very nature reinforces the notion that people across separate societies are more united in their similarities than divided by their distinctions.
Just as the Earth appears small when viewed against the enormity of outer space, human differences can seem trivial alongside the promise of combined space exploration efforts. Accordingly, since the dawn of the space era, countries have sought to balance between unilateral and multilateral space activity, calibrating their approaches over the decades depending on both the larger geopolitical context and their own respective capabilities and limitations in resources, technology, and national will.
Whether nations have conducted space activity jointly or individually, though, the effect on the everyday lives of individuals has been profound. A half-century after Sputnik, we live in a world transformed by space. Communications satellites link the globe, providing information, entertainment, and connectivity to hundreds of millions of people instantly. The weather forecast that determines our weekend excursion, the electronic roadmap that plans our route, and the global positioning system that guides us along the way are all enabled by spacecraft orbiting overhead. Moreover, these uses of space services by individuals are the legacy of even greater, and ongoing, demands from governments, militaries, enterprises, and institutions: for launch vehicles capable of sending missions into orbit or beyond; global networks to connect widespread populations, forces, and assets; systems to geo-locate people and equipment anywhere in the world; and imagery of the Earth and its resources from above.
Today, space has been transformed from an object of wonder to an arena of practical, economic, and strategic consequence. Yet to understand this arena, and the motivations informing the national and business actors operating within it, a structured framework is required. Leaders who seek to maximize their investments in space activity require a nuanced, methodical, and rigorous analysis of its changing dynamics. Futron Corporation, a premier provider of decision management solutions, created its annual, independent, and self-financed Space Competitiveness Index (SCI), published by Futron since 2008, for this express purpose.
The SCI is a decision management tool. It offers decision-makers an ongoing benchmark to continuously re-assess the competitive landscape of space activityand to contemplate its meaning for their respective governments, enterprises, and institutions in an organized way. Now in its fifth year, the SCI methodology has been annually updated and refined. This 2012 edition expands the number of countries evaluated from 10 to 15, providing a critical half-decade of insight on the relative strengths, weaknesses, trends, and trajectories of leading space-participant nations.
What Is FutronS SCI?
Futrons SCI is a globally-focused analytic framework that defines, measures, and ranks national competitiveness in the development, implementation, and execution of space activity. By analyzing space-related government, human capital, and economic drivers, the SCI framework assesses the ability of a country to undertake space activity, and evaluates its performance relative to peer nations, as well as the global space arena.
The SCI considers comparative space-related strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for 15 leading space-participant nations: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe (treated as a single integrated actor), India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Ukraine, and the United States. These nations are compared across 50 individual qualitative and quantitative metrics, each collected for all 15 nations, which span three overarching competitiveness dimensions: government, human capital, and industry.
Futron Corporation evaluates these indicators using a proprietary data model whose assumptions are annually reviewed and refined. The resulting scores form the foundation of the index itself, which is then interpreted through a written analysis featuring country-by-country profiles of national space activities and competitiveness dynamics.
Since Futrons inaugural study in 2008, the globalization of space activity has only accelerated. Some countries with zero participation in space five years ago now have space agencies; others with negligible space involvement have significantly increased the scope of their activities. Recognizing this change, Futron has added five new nations to its Space Competitiveness Index.
These five nations comprise a tier of emerging space leaders, and are evaluated metric-by-metric alongside the original ten in the 2012 SCI. Although the five new nations are not evaluated retrospectivelyand therefore do not feature five-year trendstheir space competitiveness dynamics will be tracked in comparison with an enlarged group of 15 nations going forward.
The inclusion of five new countries has altered the scoring mathematics behind the SCI model. The denominator by which nations are pro-rated against one another in individual metrics has changed from 10 to 15. Reflecting this change, the 2012 SCI marks the introduction of re-centered scores, which will continue in future editions of the study. For the convenience of our longtime readers, we also provide non re-centered scores in a master table, allowing for easy comparison of 2012 country scores consistent with those used in the first four editions of the SCI.
Also in 2012, Futron has reviewed its foundational 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 studies to provide a fresh perspective, surveying five-year trends to enhance discussion of national strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Futrons 2012 SCI expands its country profiles, providing added data on national space assets, infrastructure, budget, and commercial sector revenues. In addition, the 2012 SCI continues to use an optimized written analysis structure, designed to accommodate the interests of both casual readers and executive decision-makers.
Key Space Competitveness Themes
Global space activity drives a substantial economic engine, fosters national pride, and advances science and exploration. Some nations invest in space for the domestic esteem and international respect associated with independent technological and infrastructure capabilities. Others focus more on the societal benefits derived from satellite communications access, imagery, and natural resource management. Militaries also have long realized the force multiplication potential of space assets, including secure communications, reconnaissance, tracking, and coordination of war-fighting forces.
Yet increasingly, military space is interwoven with civilian and commercial space systems and infrastructureadding a new layer of complexity to governmental decision-making, national industrial policy, and the participation of the private sector within the space arena. And whatever the purpose of space investment, it is underpinned by a common denominator: human capital. Knowledge, skills, and expertise ultimately define the leading edge of space activity. In a world where talent is mobile, the ability to educate, attract, retain, and continuously enrich a base of skilled professionals is a growing determinant of which nations and actors lead in space competitiveness.
While nations invest in space in pursuit of different outcomes, the overarching themes of space competitiveness share common linkages: government policy, national security, science and technology, educational infrastructure, and economic strength. Together, the civilian, military, and commercial space sectors focus the broader space discourse around key questions such as the relative competitive position of traditional space leaders, the role of emerging space powers, and the aims of newer or smaller space participants. This study seeks to address pivotal and timely strategic questions about space power and competitiveness:
What are the core drivers of space competitiveness, and how are they changing?
As the second decade of the 21st century begins, how will nations leverage both competitive and collaborative strategies to maximize their space goals?
How does space competitiveness impact larger socio-economic trends?
How has the worldwide economic slowdown altered government and enterprise space plans?
How will the loss of human spaceflight capacity in the U.S. civil space program affect the competitive trajectory of the United States over the next decade?
What will be the strategic interplay among the three traditional, and current, leading space actors: the United States, Europe, and Russia?
Is China on track to achieve the ambitious space goals it has set for the second half of this decade?
As Japan continues to implement its comprehensive Basic Space Law reforms, will it convert administrative momentum into more pronounced regional space leadership?
Will Indian investments in new launch and spacecraft platforms lead to market advances?
Will Canada move into closer alignment with the United States and Europe, or increase investment in independent capabilities?
Will South Korea rebound from its two failed launch attempts to conduct its first successful orbital mission, reshaping the Asian space dynamic?
Will Israel develop the political consensus to make more substantial space investments in order to convert its niche strengths into an expanded international presence?
How will Australias renewed focus on space policy translate into national space investments?
Will Brazil convert its newly increased space funding into concerted national action? Will Argentina expand partnerships regionally and internationally to enhance its global role?
How can Ukraine successfully productize its considerable space industrial base?
How do Irans civilian and military space objectives overlap, and where do they remain distinct?
What is the role of public-private-partnerships in South Africas newly announced space investments?
Some top-level findings of the Futron SCI are provided next...
Argentina is adapting its satellite manufacturing sector for the international marketplace, exploring both commercial and government-to-government deals. It stands to benefit from increased investment in spacecraft subcomponents.
After more than a decade of dormancy, Australia is back. The government is refreshing its national space policy segment-by-segment, focusing on space not only a driver of innovation and expertise, but also for its benefits to Australian society.
Brazil has begun to re-examine its national space priorities, increased funding, expanded its partnerships, and laid plans for a new launch vehicle. It remains to be seen whether these steps will keep Brazil ahead of regional counterparts that are also emerging onto the space scene.
Canada retains a skilled space workforce, but delays in space policy refresh and implementation are significantly offsetting these competitive advantages.
China performed a record number of launches in 2012, surpassing the United States for the first time, while increasing investment in technical education programs and civilian research institutes.
Europes integrated approach is complemented by the rise of new national space agencies across the continentfrom the United Kingdom to the Czech Republic to Estoniaas well as more assertive space export financing.
India is enhancing its space-related technical education, while gradually progressing toward a completely self-reliant set of next generation launch vehicles.
Iran has made faster progress than any other newly emergent space nation. The tenor of Irans space programcivilian or militarywill hinge on geopolitics. Other international actors have substantial power to influence the future focus of the Iranian space program.
Israel, despite funding increases, remains challenged by its lack of domestic industry scale, and has difficulty sustaining a commercial space presence in global markets.
Japan, despite ongoing benefits from its policy reforms, is losing competitive ground relative to most other actors, and can benefit from a greater focus on commercializing its industrial base.
Russias remains the worlds launch leader, and promises to retain that role in the near term, thanks to its vital role in transporting astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station, as well as the introduction of Soyuz launches from the European spaceport at Kourou. These strengths, however, are offset by weaknesses in retention of human capital talent.
South Africa is divided, from a budgetary standpoint, between space investments focused on societal usage of external assets already in space and investments focused on building the countrys own space industrial base.
South Koreas two failed launch attempts contributed to an organizational shakeup, but have not reduced its determination to become the newest country to achieve independent spaceflight.
Ukraine has an enviable space industrial base, but limited domestic demand for its space hardware. It is aggressively seeking partners overseas, but has not yet engaged with key emerging markets.
The United States remains the overall leader in space competitiveness, but its relative position has declined for the fifth straight year, as other countries enhance their capabilities while the U.S. undergoes major transitions amid significant uncertainty.
International collaboration is increasingly taking shape as a concerted space competitiveness strategy, especially among smaller actors.
Four distinct space competitiveness tiers have emerged. The top two remain dynamic, but have shown some stabilization; meanwhile, the bottom two are subject to especially intense competition, with very small gaps making the difference in competitive rankings.
Relative Space Competitiveness Changes By Country
A critical benefit of the SCI is the ability to track competitiveness trends over time, supported by statistical analysis. Since introducing the SCI in 2008, Futron has identified notable movements among leading space-participant nations, now supported by five years of tracking data, which are detailed in the 2012 edition of the report.
For instance, of the 10 countries analyzed, only the United States has shown five straight years of competitiveness declines. By contrast, China, Japan, Russia, and India have improved their own space competitiveness by 41, 37, 11, and 10 percent, respectively, over their relative starting points from when Futrons benchmarking process began in 2008.
The SCI also allows direct comparisons between individual countries. The table below offers a sneak preview of competitiveness changes. Positive scores indicate competitiveness gains, while negative scores indicate competitiveness losses. For instance, Israel gained 1.49 basis points in overall space competitiveness relative to Canada, while the United States lost 1.28 basis points against Europe.
In addition to providing a framework for analyzing current space competitiveness, Futrons 2012 Space Competitiveness Index equips decision makers with the ability to review trends over time. Futron has tabulated spacecraft manufacturing and orbital launch activity over the past ten years. The results are shown below. Additional historic data are included in the full report.
Full Report Outline
Although the past decade can show us where we have been, the real question is: Where are we going? The full report of Futrons 2012. Space Competitiveness Index features approximately 150 additional pages of research and analysis including:
An Introduction offering insight into the SCI concept, purpose, methodology, and structure, as well as overarching themes driving the evolving discourse regarding space competitiveness
Added data on national space assets, infrastructure, budget, and commercial sector revenues
Optimized country-by-country profiles of each nations space activities and plans, featuring:
2012 Index Findings
Competitiveness Changes Relative to Other Leaders
Overview of 2011 Activities
– Preview of The Year Ahead
– National Space Capabilities
– Human Capital
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats Analysis
In addition, Futron Corporation is pleased to announce that the extensive full data set used to produce the 2012 SCI is also available. For further details, please visit Futrons website at www.futron.com